Hines Ward: A Salute to the Pittsburgh Steelers' Smiling Man

steeler junkyContributor IFebruary 24, 2010

DETROIT , MI - OCTOBER 11:  Hines Ward #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after scoring a quarter touchdown while playing the Detroit Lions on October 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Many of us fans look forward to watching our favorite pro football games during the season. We root and hope for victories to make us want to look forward to the next game.

Each team has many elite players that make plays in the game and makes our teams game special to watch. Face of the franchise players I think they are called. Fans may not  agree on who the best player is, and that's OK.

But each fan can pick their own favorite player.  It is a personal choice and no one needs to agree with you. You can even have more than one.

For many years, I did not have a favorite team only favorite players on several different teams that were exciting and fun to watch. Men who I have never met but have been blessed to have watched many such players over the years.

I am a Pittsburgh Steelers Fan now and have been so for 41 years.  My favorite player to root for and watch now is and for the biggest part of the last decade is.

The Smiling Man: Hines Ward. A man that has lined up at seven different positions in his career and watched at least 30 other WRs try to make the Steelers' starting lineup. Some have; none have stayed the course.

Drafted near the end of the third round in 1998. A third-round question mark that turned out to be though good and bad seasons a plus for the offense. I don't know who pulled the trigger on that pick. I bet no one would admit now that they advised against it.

In his rookie year, he played mostly on special teams. He returned some kicks and had 28 tackles, I believe. Also, in the second half of the season, he had 15 receptions. His second year, he had 61 receptions on a running team—not bad. In his third year, he only caught 48 balls, but he only played part time because Plaxico had arrived.

In his fourth year, he was back. He has since took on all challenges to his position and has won every one so far.

The Steelers' personnel department have been trying to find his replacement for years and all they have been able to do is find players to complement him and help add to his production.

He is not the fastest or the tallest. He is quick, agile, sure handed, great blocker, and the most complete WR in the game. He has had 11 fumbles, 10,947 receiving yards, and a few heart breaking dropped balls in a 12-year pro career. He has done his best to share his knowledge, tutor young players to help them improve their game, and be active with charities—great by any one's standards.

He is disliked by opposing defenses for his hard hitting when blocking and loved by Steelers fans for all he brings to the game.

He is a man who seems to love playing the game. When the is camera is on him on the sideline you can read all the different emotions on his face. What ever he is feeling. But when he is on the field he aways seems to be wearing his trademark smile.

It has been argued that he has to have at least two more good 1000-yard years to have a chance of ever getting in the NFL hall of fame. I hope he stays healthy and productive so we get to watch him play a few more years.

I do want to thank him for all he is and the joy I get from watching him play for the Steelers.

Along with a few others that have brought something extra to my NFL game days, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward, The Smiling Man, will be in my personal Hall of Fame.

Who is your favorite player and like to watch on game day?